I’ve been thinking a lot about how much life changes, even from one year to the next. Let’s take a look back at life ten years ago, five years ago, and one year ago. What were some of the unknowns at that time? What decisions were on the horizon, but not yet made, and how did they work out?
Ten Years Ago, May 1st, 1998
I was finishing my senior year at Cornell. I knew that I would go to graduate school for Biomedical Engineering, but was faced with an agonizing decision between Northwestern and University of Pennsylvania. Both programs were excellent and there were pros and cons for each. I ended up choosing Northwestern because I loved Chicago and felt that the program had better connections with the healthcare industry. I made some good friends during my year there and learned a lot but those industry ties turned out to be irrelevant as I pursued a different career path.
So, I had no idea where I would be living and studying in six months, who my friends would be, and what that meant for my current relationship and friendships. All of that would change radically over the next three years as I moved several times, gained new friends, lost touch with others, struggled to find a job, agonized over two career path options, accepted my first job, ended a long term relationship, and met my future wife.
Five Years Ago, May 1st, 2003
I had just moved in with Stephanie in NYC and adopted two baby cats, Paulie and Penny. I was working as a contractor for a new company; the future looked promising for the company and we started to think about relocating to the west coast. So, once again I wasn’t sure where I would be living in six months, but I had a good feeling it would be a change for the better.
Engagement, marriage, and children were not on my mind at the time. I was focused on doing well in my new job and adjusting to cohabitation and life with two crazy kittens. On that day five years ago, I had no idea that we’d end up in San Diego and eventually engaged and married. The move ended up being a fantastic idea, and the engagement and marriage, while a long time coming, were very happy times for us.
One Year Ago, May 1st, 2007
Stephanie and I are married and settled in San Diego. Our closest friends just moved back home to St. Louis, so we’re sad and feeling a little uncertain about our long-term prospects in San Diego. We know that at the end of the year we’ll start building our family, which was exciting but also very scary. We also knew that this would necessitate a move to a larger place at the end of the year. Little did we know that it would turn out to be twins, throwing our simple life into a very happy tailspin. We also didn’t know that we’d take over a friend’s rental house; while that was a good decision at the time, the twins factor would force us to consider a large home purchase in the coming year.
Paulie and Penny were doing well and not really on our radar. We didn’t know that Paulie would be diagnosed with renal failure that fall, leading to intensive treatment and constant worry about his health. That he would eventually succumb to the disease seven months later would have been absolutely preposterous to us one year ago.
My job was going well and the company’s prospects were bright. I had no idea that a few layoffs that summer would lead to a promotion and a lot more uncertainty about the future.
Today, May 1st, 2008
What will I think, looking back on this day next year? I’m astounded by how much life can change in one year, even when things seem stable and under control. Stephanie is pregnant with twin girls, due in August. From that alone I know the next year will have more changes than I can possibly conceive. Once again, where will we be living, having outgrown this rental house with no heat? Who will be our new friends and who will we lose touch with? Will the coming recession threaten my job when I need it most? I’ve got no idea what will happen and with history as my guide, I can guarantee that I won’t even be able to guess.